A key priority for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office is to safeguard consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices.
During National Consumer Protection Week, March 2-8, the AGO wants to highlight multiple ways the office can help consumers from an informal complaint resolution service to suing bad actors and providing scam prevention tips.
Have a consumer business complaint? File a complaint online
In 2013, the AGO Consumer Resource Center (CRC) resolved 11,300 consumer complaints and returned $4,275,451 to Washington consumers through its complaint resolution program.
The CRC helps consumers who believe they are victims of scams or unfair practices by providing a free, voluntary, informal complaint resolution service. The CRC helps resolve the dispute by making the businesses aware of the complaint and giving them a chance to respond. The CRC’s involvement can often help resolve the dispute.
The AGO may initiate an investigation or pursue legal action to address consumer protection violations at any time, even if the CRC is not able to help resolve the dispute. As practice, we do not confirm or deny AGO investigations.
If you think you are the victim of a scam please visit http://www.atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx to file a complaint online or request a mail-in complaint form. If you have questions about the complaint resolution process, contact the AGO at 1-800-551-4636.
AGO sues bad actors who don’t play by the rules
If a business doesn’t play by the rules, the AGO will hold them accountable. The AGO files numerous lawsuits each year and many recover refunds for consumers and impose penalties and injunctions on offending businesses.
In 2013, the AGO filed and settled a major timeshare scam case involving Jonathan Gibbs from Olympia, Wash. As a result 1,500 Washington state victims will receive full restitution, between $1,000 to $20,000.
Educate yourself to avoid being scammed
The AGO monitors the marketplace and sends out scam alerts to notify consumers. Add yourself to the alert list here.
Also, visit our scam alert website for more details.
General tips to avoid scams:
- Research a business or organization before you spend money to make sure they’re legitimate.
- Do not give social security, financial or other personal information to strangers who contact you by phone, internet, or mail.
- Keep your antivirus software up to date and be careful when surfing the internet.
- Shred all physical copies of important documents once you no longer need them.
- Be suspicious when asked to wire money in order to claim a prize or lottery.
- Trust your gut, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.